This information is derived from the State Department's Office of Investment Affairs' Investment Climate Statement. Any questions on the ICS can be directed to EB-ICS-DL@state.gov
Last Published: 11/3/2017

Labor issues are governed by the Labor Code of Turkmenistan (last amended in July 2009), the Social Welfare code, and a number of regulations approved by presidential resolutions. Turkmenistan joined the International Labor Organization in 1993. Unemployment and underemployment are major societal issues, particularly among Turkmenistan’s youth and in its rural communities. While the Government of Turkmenistan stopped releasing the official figures for unemployment, the unofficial estimates range from 35-50 percent. Due to a severe shortage of jobs in the country, anecdotal evidence indicates that growing numbers of young Turkmen are emigrating to countries such as Turkey, Russia and other former Soviet republics. In order to stop the outward migration, the State Migration Service of Turkmenistan arbitrarily denies exit at the airport and border points to hundreds of citizens who are unemployed but want to travel abroad for various purposes. In February 2016, President Berdimuhamedov signed a decree “On Matters of Registration of the Individuals Arriving in Ashgabat for Employment Purposes,” which discriminates against residents from the regions, who want to seek employment in capital city Ashgabat. The decree introduces a work permit system by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, which may issue work permits for a maximum of one year. Ashgabat residents are given priority over non-residents for job openings in the city, thereby eliminating merit-based hiring. The Government has also introduced a requirement that 90 percent of any firm’s workforce be Turkmen citizens.

The Law on Child Labor (2004) prohibits the employment of children under the age of 16 and makes employment in hazardous and harmful labor illegal for any individual under the age of 18. The government continues to be the largest employer in the country, with seventy to eighty percent of employment originating in the public sector.

Turkmenistan’s labor regulations require that all vacancies be posted at local employment offices. Most vacancies are for low-skilled jobs. Only a few state agencies post job advertisements in the local newspaper. Most government positions are filled through personal connections. Employment offices have not been effective tools in reducing unemployment, or in providing suitable candidates for international companies. Investors recruit directly, although candidates still pay a nominal fee to the relevant employment office. The Association of Trade Unions of Turkmenistan, the successor to the Soviet-era system of government-controlled trade unions, is the only trade union allowed in the country. The Association’s unions are divided along both sectorial and regional lines. The government increasingly seeks to prevent workers from other parts of the country from migrating to the capital, Ashgabat, in search of work. Due to low oil prices, the government has also taken steps to reduce expenses by laying off some public sector employees. Turkmenistan abolished a major government institution, the Ministry of Oil & Gas, on July 15, 2016 and there have been many reports of ministries not meeting salary requirement of their employees. Article 294 of the Labor Code of Turkmenistan states that the courts handle employer-employee labor disputes. Disputes arising out of collective bargaining and collective agreements can be investigated by commissions on labor disputes, trade unions of enterprises, and the courts, as per Article 368 of the same code. Although the Labor Code allows for collective bargaining, in practice it is not used and the courts do not perform the labor dispute resolution function they are assigned. No strike took place in 2016 that would pose an investment risk.

The Department of State’s Turkmenistan 2016 Human Rights Report is available online. International Labor Organization’s Turkmenistan-specific profile is also available online.

The official workday in Turkmenistan is eight hours, with the standard workweek consisting of 40 hours over five days. The 2009 Labor Code reconfirmed a 40-hour work week, protected workers’ rights by promoting the role of trade unions, guaranteed job security by restricting short-term contracts, and extended the duration of annual leave from 24 calendar days to 30 calendar days. In practice, government and many private sector employees are required to work 10 hours per day and/or a sixth day without compensation. Health and safety regulations exist, but are not commonly enforced. Foreigners with the government’s permission to reside in Turkmenistan may work and are subject to the same labor regulations as citizens unless otherwise specified by law.

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Turkmenistan Economic Development and Investment Law